03 April, 2008

DC Etiquette 101

I am sure this is going to be a yearly piece. It’s coming early this year, but it’s time.

10 Things To Know While In DC

(aka How Not To Become Hated in the Capitol City)

10 - Enter the metro quickly, move to the middle and be quiet.

While waiting for the metro to unload stand off to the side and wait. If you see a group forming on either side of the double doors do not stand between them. Seriously, what do you think it is going to happen when the doors open? When you board, move quickly and to the center of the car. Under no circumstances should you bring a fully extended stroller onto the metro – and do not do it while your kids are walking beside you! The point on the metro is to be as tiny as possible. If you must bring a stroller onto the metro it must be closed! And move away from the doors, I promise we’ll move when your stop comes. Don’t clog the doors – that’s how you get yourself yelled at. Then, be respectful and realize that while you may enjoy shouting in your car I don't care how cool you thought the Air and Space Museum was. Speak in an a normal voice - realizing there are other people in the car and we are tired after working all day.

9 - There are no animated characters here.

Seriously do not expect to see Ben Franklin or Betsy Ross or Rosie from the 40’s walking around. And there is no one to give you autographs. The people in suits are not characters from the West Wing – they actually work there. People who live in DC were not hired to entertain you – we will not do a parade down Penn Ave later.

8 - The monuments are not toys!

They are representations of real people from real events – from a time that was, in my opinion, better. So show some respect. Do not shout on your cell phone, run around, and do not grope Eleanor Roosevelt – what did she ever do to you?

7 - Do not stop on the sidewalk, on the escalator, outside of the turnstile – basically don’t stop.

They should hand out flyers at DCA with this rule on it. Keep moving or move to the side out of the pattern of traffic. No, the curve in the metro station does not count. If you must regroup do it in an obscure corner - not directly outside the turnstile - seriously people! If you stop in the middle of the sidewalk, or a turnstile be prepared to be scowled at, snarled at, and probably yelled at. And most important – never – and I mean NEVER stand on the left side of the escalator. Seriously, if you value your life you will learn to stand on the right, walk on the left.

6 - Your protest doesn’t mean anything.

Here is how protests are perceived to people in the District. It’s this week’s cause (or one of this week’s causes). It won’t do anything. No one is in the Capitol building on Saturday. And no, we are admiring the fact that you got 1,000 people to stand outside with you. We are laughing at you for thinking that will do anything. Seriously, protests do nothing but annoy people because streets are closed and the Metro is slower.

5 - Stay on the sidewalk.

These are real streets in DC, if you are walking down Independence Ave. I reserve the right to hit you with my real car, and it will really hurt. Streets in DC are for driving, I don’t care how pretty the cherry blossoms are, or if it cuts 10 steps off your journey. Stay on the sidewalk. And only cross when you have the little man. Again, if you cross when I have a green light I total right to hit you.

4 – No stupid questions

You should, under no circumstance, look to the Capitol and ask if that’s the White House. Or look to the Washington Monument and ask what it is. These mishaps may be excused if you are three. If someone beyond the age of ten asks these question, as a parent you should be ashamed – and we reserve the right to banish you to Anacostia.

3 - We are nice people.

But like a tiger, or a bear, or any other animal if provoked we will turn on you. We are pleasant and will give you directions – as long as it doesn’t cause us to clog the sidewalk – but do not provoke us. This city is not a tourist destination for us – we live here it’s our home so please...

2 - Use your head.

Do not behave as if this was your first time out of your home (which is how 99% of tourists behave). You don’t walk down the street at home, don’t do it here. You do not cross the interstate on foot or stop in the middle of the mall (and if you do then stop!) – don’t do it here. You don’t allow your kids to run around wild at home – don’t let them do it in my backyard – got it?


1 - It’s not Disneyworld.

Real people live here! Independence Ave is not Main St. USA. The Mall is not the path between Splash Mountain and Space Mountain. Pay attention – show some respect! This city is NOT here for you! DC is not a tourist attraction – it is a working city where real people are going to real jobs. Keep that in mind. You would do yourself well to adapt to our life – because, honestly, stupid tourists are the reason we hate DC in the summer.

Just a friendly reminder of proper DC etiquette from me to you.

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© Amanda Lunday